Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Narcotics, Crimes, and Responsibility

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Narcotics, Crimes, and Responsibility

Article excerpt

Narcotics, Crimes, and Responsibility, Larisa Ivanovna Romanova. Vladivostok: Far Eastern State University Press, 2000. 280 pp.

One of the largest threats to the Russian Federation is the epidemic level of drug addiction. On 28 April 2001, the Russian health minister told the State Duma that there are more than three million drug users in Russia and that 36,000 of them have AIDS. An increasing number of the drug users are minors (especially students and homeless children) and women. Within the Russian Federation, the Russian Far East is the largest federal district in terms of territory, yet it has the smallest population (seven million) and the highest rate of drug related crimes. Those sobering facts alone are testimony to the importance and timeliness of Larisa Romanova's book on drug addiction in Russia and the Far East. Romanova, a professor of criminal law and criminology at the Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok, courageously critiques past policies, approaches, and biases with respect to drug addiction and offers new methods for analyzing the problem. She suggests effective and compassionate methods of caring for drug addicts.

Narcotics, Crimes, and Responsibility is compelling and innovative in a variety of ways. Romanova employs an interdisciplinary approach to the problems of drug addiction as an illness (narkomaniya) and drug addiction as a social phenomenon (narkotism). Second, she presents a model "anti-narcotics" program and makes concrete suggestions about dealing with the problem at the federal, regional, and local levels. Third, she develops a theoretical model of statutes for the criminal code that would improve the laws on drug-related crimes. Fourth, she provides a rigorous classification scheme for drug addicts and the types of crimes they commit.

Perhaps the most important contribution of the book is its attempt to change fundamentally public and political opinion about how to deal with drug addiction at all levels. Romanova examines historical Russian and Soviet attitudes toward drug users and drug purveyors, which lumped both together and provided similar penalties and prison terms. As she notes, a clear distinction should be made between the criminals who are trafficking the drugs and the victims of drug addiction. …

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